Assorted Links (7/27/2013)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Damage Control at Fortress IRS – WSJ

Peggy Noonan writes, “The agency crisis could permanently harm Americans’ faith in government.”

Children With Parents on Government Assistance More Likely to Become Dependent

“Does dependence on government assistance in one generation cause dependency in the next? A new economics paper suggests it does.”

Obama to Congress: Only I Can Amend ObamaCare

“I’d wager lots of congressional Democrats are pretty angry at President Obama today.”

Unworkable ObamaCare

“In The Wall Street Journal, Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker report that the chaos—opaque rules, delays and inconsistent guidance from Washington—is mounting.”

State and Local Pension Liabilities

“To fund these pensions fully within 30 years, states would need to raise taxes by $1,385 per household, per year, over that period.”

Hot Enough For You?

“It is doubtful that people pushing the latest fad, such as a carbon tax, have any clue the degree to which global warming is being manufactured (rightly or wrongly) by systematic adjustments to weather…”

Examining the High Dropout Rate of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Classes)

“Recently, MOOCs have achieved high popularity. It’s no wonder – these college-level classes are free and open to anyone with an internet connection. Although the free college courses have high enrollment rates, they also have high dropout rates.”

Facing Up to America’s Pension Woes

“From the opinion section of today’s WSJ, University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel writes “Public retirees everywhere insist that Chapter 9 does not permit any benefit changes. Their legal case is weak.””

Information, the Entrepreneur, and George Gilder’s New Economic Thinking

“George Gilder’s vision of data-driven capitalism has much to recommend it, but caution is warranted.”

Moderate Democrats are quitting on Obamacare

“Democratic support softens as Obama administration prepares insurance exchange roll out.”

If Paul Krugman Didn’t Exist, Republicans Would Have To Invent Him

Paul Krugman is famous for routinely ignoring or (in some cases) even contradicting his own academic work when he writes for the New York Times. At times, it seems that he may have a split personality – as an economist, Krugman channels Dr. Jekyll, but as a columnist he channels the malevolent Mr. Hyde. For example, consider Krugman’s reaction in March 2010 (located at to then Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning’s attempt to block a one-month extension of unemployment benefits on the grounds (as explained by Bunning’s Senate colleague, Jon Kyl of Arizona) that “…continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work”. In the NYT article cited above, Krugman says that it is “bizarre” to worry that unemployment benefits reduce people’s incentives to find jobs — indeed, that this concern is even at odds with “textbook economics”. Apparently Prof. Krugman must count himself and his wife, Robin Wells, among those who hold bizarre ideas – or who, when writing economics textbooks, misrepresent economists’ views. Here’s what Krugman and Wells wrote on page 210 of their jointly authored textbook entitled “Macroeconomics (2nd ed.)” (see, published in 2009:

“Side Effects of Public Policy. In addition, public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. Most economically advanced countries provide benefits to laid-off workers as a way to tide them over until they find a new job. In the United States, these benefits typically replace only a small fraction of a worker’s income and expire after 26 weeks. In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that afflicts a number of European economies.”

In closing, my recommendation is to only read Krugman if you want or need to know what the progressive left’s political narrative du jour happens to be.

They Finally Tested The ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ On Actual Prisoners — And The Results Were Not What You Would Expect

“Prisoners were more cooperative than students.”

Obamacare Is an Expensive Failure

“Where’s the affordable part of the Affordable Care Act?”

The Costs of Climate Change and Extreme Weather Are Passing the High-Water Mark

Quoting from this Time Magazine article, “”More than 5.5 million homes are protected via the National Flood Insurance Program and a little less than 20 percent of those homes – usually those who live in the most dangerous areas – receive flood insurance at heavily subsidized rates. The result is a perverse incentive for homeowners to continue to live in areas that are likely to be hit by storms and floods, knowing that the cost of rebuilding will be effectively socialized by the rest of us. At a time when we should be seriously thinking about retreating from the most high-risk coastal areas, government policy inadvertently supports living on top of the sea.”

Rise of the Warrior Cop

“SWAT teams were once rare, but they now operate at every level of government, from small towns to federal agencies. Is it time to reconsider the militarization of American policing?”